After the first few weeks, my clothes started fitting a little looser.

After a few more weeks, I started feeling better.

Now I’m starting to get questions from friends and family. I’ve still got a LONG way to go…but it hasn’t slowed down the questions.  What do you do? I’m overwhelmed with information and I can’t sort it out! Do you still crave sugar? Help! Where do I start?

So I wrote an email for a coworker and thought, “You know, I ought to just make a blog post so I can share it easily.”  Here you go!

Before I do this: Don’t just follow my advice. Talk to your doctor or other professional. I’m just a girl who read everything she could get her hands on and obsessed and guessed and trialed and erred.  And I had a nutritionist to help me along the way, which helped me when I got stumped.  So don’t try to go at this alone – join a Facebook support group (I recommend this one, this one, and/or this one) or get together with friends or something, anything but going at it alone is…exhausting.

Also, before I dive in to the diet stuff: recognize that it’s not just about eating – it’s also the emotional, spiritual and physical connections we have in the world.  For me, I’ve spent most of my life with an unhealthy, gluttonous relationship with food.  I don’t have it figured out yet, but it’s a journey and I’m walking my path.  One thing that helped me with this change was to start off by reading Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction.  I can’t recommend it enough, and am so thankful my Aunt recommended it to me.

Without further ado… here’s the resources I used to get started and some of the advice I got along the way….

This is a pretty long article, but it’s jam packed full of introductory details on why this is a good, healthy way of eating… and not just from a weight loss standpoint.

This is another article by the same guy that I read after I stalled out, which helped me feel more comfortable experimenting with my macros a little tiny bit, and that change ended up restarting my weight loss.

This article has some stuff about keto-flu and how to avoid it – super important for the first few weeks!!

This is a website that has a really robust calculator, which I used to experiment with when I stalled.  They recommend slightly different percentages than I’d read on other sites – I experimented a little bit on what worked for me (everything comes down to what works for you, ultimately) and I eventually settled on eating 5% carbs, 25% protein, 70% fat.

One of the main side effects of starting this diet is a variety of GI distress (tummy grumbles, loose bowls, constipation, etc).  This article does a good job of explaining why and what to do about it (but ignore the fact that they’re really trying to sell you their exogenous ketones… I’ve never used them and don’t think they’re necessary).

This guy is one of the more reasonable guys on the internet in terms of keto education (and he’s pretty to look at).

I highly recommend his video on MCT oil, he explains it WAY BETTER than I ever could.

Here’s the advice my nutritionist gave me that rocked my world and made me give up artificial sweetners (for the most part — I still have sprite zero with my rum):

My number one recommendation for you at this point is to get rid of the artificial sweeteners (all of them, including stevia).  Although sugar and calorie free, they still trigger an insulin response, promoting fat storage and inflammation.  Along with that, they don’t allow your body to wean off sugar because majority of them are 200-600x sweeter than actual sugar.  So, rather than being in a fat burning state, your body can maintain a sugar burning state, which doesn’t allow you to tap into your fat stores very easily.

An insulin response is worse than an increase in blood sugar.  The artificial sweeteners will not raise blood sugar, however, our body doesn’t respond to the calories in sugar, it responds to the sweetness, excreting insulin in response.  That insulin is a growth hormone, triggering fat storage and inflammation.  This is why pure fat is allowed during a fasting state.

Pure fat does not trigger an insulin response, however carbs, and even protein, do.

All that to say, here’s (essentially) what I do:

  • Drink a ton of water. Buy the good stuff with electrolytes whenever you can (smart water).
  • Intermittent fasting from 9pm to 12pm the next day (so I only eat between the hours of noon and 9pm).
    • If I get hungry while I’m fasting, I drink black coffee with some MCT oil in it (MCT oil is the thing in the youtube link above).
  • There are a lot of opinions about this, but I track what I eat almost every day. I use MyFitnessPal, and it helps me make sure I’m hitting my macros.  A lot of people prefer one specific to the Keto diet, but I tried them and wasn’t impressed with the accuracy of their food databases, so I’m sticking with MFP.  I can manually keep track of my carbs and fiber to get my net carbs.
    • Quick note on “net carbs” (this explains it) – I only subtract carbs for fiber when I’m eating avocado and other leafy greens.  Everyone has to figure out what they do for themselves, but I stay away from figuring net carbs too frequently.
  • Every meal I eat something green – salad, spinach, avocado, green beans, something like that.
  • If I cook food, I cook it in coconut oil and butter… if I have salad dressing, it’s full fat (it’s hard to find ones without sugar if you buy them, so I make my own or buy the stupid expensive organic stuff).
  • I snack on fatty food – my favorite is mixed nuts, Parmesan crisps from Costco, and spicy pumpkin seeds.
  • I weigh a lot of what I eat (especially when I’m pouring something out of a bag) so I don’t overeat or underestimate (I have had this scale for YEARS and I just weigh things individually before I make my meal)
  • As I’ve been shopping, I just choose more natural things and am very slowly transitioning (which is way more cost-effective). When we ran out of vegetable oil, I bought coconut instead.  When I ran out of hidden valley ranch, I bought the packet mix for ranch dressing (same brand) because the packet doesn’t have sugar added.
    • Maybe I’ll eventually work up to making my own ranch, but that day was not today! #keepitreal
  • I eat a lot of salad, things baked in butter, canned tuna and salmon, pork roast, bacon, olives, pickles, red bell peppers, eggs, chicken, nuts, etc.
    • My favorite salad is a mix of romaine and spinach, some parmesan cheese and some Annie’s organic Caesar dressing. YUM!
    • My favorite way to eat bacon is with jalapenos and cream cheese!
  • I eat dairy (cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, etc.) but lots of people have issues with eating too much dairy, so I just try to pay attention to my body.
  • I don’t do sweets anymore at all unless it’s a special occasion – and even then just a few bites or a single serving of something keto friendly.  I don’t crave sweets since I gave up artificial sweeteners (which for me is INSANE because I love sweets!).
  • My family doesn’t eat Keto so when we make stuff like chicken casserole, we cook the chicken, I take some plain and then they mix the chicken with the carby stuff I can’t eat.
    • Another example: Spaghetti! I bought a spiralizer and make zucchini noodles, so I can still eat it – I just make my noodles separately and take a scoop of meaty delicious sauce out before they mix the regular noodles in.
    • One more: Taco night! I tried the low-carb tortillas you can buy at the store, but they have lots of chemicals.  So, I learned how to make coconut flour tortillas – they’re not bad!

Here’s my Pinterest boards you might find useful:

Honestly… the results speak for themselves. I’m almost halfway to my goal after 3 months… my weight still goes up, then down, then up, then down… so I highly encourage people to measure themselves.  I’ve lost several inches even when I didn’t lose a lot of weight.

More importantly, I feel good and have more energy.  I no longer struggle to stay awake or even wake up in the morning.  My sleep is less fitful.  All these things play a part in weight loss – it’s not just diet, it’s also all the other areas of life.

I hope this helps give you an example of what Keto looks like for me.